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Using Rubik’s cube to improve and evaluate robot manipulation


Credit: Yang et al.

Researchers at University of Washington have not too long ago developed a brand new protocol to coach robots and take a look at their efficiency on duties that contain object manipulation. This protocol, introduced in a paper revealed in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, is predicated on the Rubik’s Dice, the well-known 3D mixture puzzle invented by the Hungarian sculpture and architect Ernő Rubik.

In one of their previous studies, the staff intently examined how robots purchase sequential manipulation abilities, similar to these required to deal with Rubik’s dice. Of their experiments, they noticed a mismatch between what people and robots discover difficult, when finishing the 3D mixture puzzle.

“For us humans, it is challenging to decide what moves to make to complete Rubik’s cube, yet it is quite easy for us to physically manipulate and twist the cube as desired,” Boling Yang, one of many researchers who carried out the examine, informed TechXplore. “For robots, it is the other way around. Robots only need a few seconds to execute a search-based algorithm that can determine a sequence of moves that will solve the cube. However, executing the individual manipulations in the real world requires sub-centimeter positioning accuracy.”

Studying to control Rubik’s dice will be very difficult for robots, because it includes a sequence of sequential actions. Which means the person errors {that a} robot makes can accumulate, affecting its general efficiency on the duty.

Yang and his colleagues imagine that the buildup of errors is a key difficulty impacting the efficiency of robots in sequential manipulation duties. As Rubik’s dice includes sequential manipulation, they suggest using the puzzle to judge the manipulation abilities of robots and examine them to these of different robotic techniques.

Using Rubik’s cube to improve and evaluate robot manipulation
Credit: Yang et al.

“Rubik’s cube manipulation requires a sufficient amount of precision, especially over long sequences of manipulations,” Yang stated. “Therefore, a robot being able to correctly and rapidly manipulate a Rubik’s cube is indicative of high manipulation performance. In our protocol, the robot is required to perform a sequence of Rubik’s cube manipulations as quickly as possible.”

The protocol developed by Yang and his colleagues assesses each a robotic’s velocity and accuracy in finishing Rubik’s dice. As a part of their examine, the researchers demonstrated its potential and applicability in a sequence of exams.

Within the first take a look at, they used it to judge two baseline algorithmic strategies for bettering a robotic’s manipulation abilities, utilizing PR2, a robotic platform designed by Willow Storage. Subsequently, the staff outlined a sequence of steps that might permit one other famend robotic, referred to as Herb, to finish Rubik’s dice. This confirmed that their protocol will be utilized to quite a lot of robotic platforms.

“Robots can score highly on our protocol by successfully completing a large number of manipulations and/or minimizing the time required to perform manipulations,” Yang defined. “Our protocol thus establishes a baseline to which other researchers can compare their systems.”

Sooner or later, the protocol devised by Yang and his colleagues could possibly be used to judge completely different computational strategies to allow robotic manipulation and examine their velocity, accuracy, and general effectiveness. As well as, the staff’s preliminary findings recommend that the protocol generalizes nicely throughout quite a lot of robotic platforms.

“We believe that having such a standard will allow robotics researchers to more clearly identify directions for progress in robot manipulation,” Yang added. “With respect to a more general audience, Rubik’s cube is understandable and even enjoyable to watch by almost everyone, thus it could serve as a gateway for students to be introduced to robotics. We are now interested in inviting researchers specialized in different areas, such as sensing, planning, and manipulator design, to try our benchmark and use it to advance robot manipulation in terms of accuracy and speed.”


Solving a Rubik’s Cube with a dexterous hand


Extra data:
Boling Yang et al, Benchmarking Robotic Manipulation With the Rubik’s Dice, IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (2020). DOI: 10.1109/LRA.2020.2969912 . On Arxiv: arxiv.org/abs/2202.07074

Boling Yang et al, Pre-touch sensing for sequential manipulation, 2017 IEEE Worldwide Convention on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) (2017). DOI: 10.1109/ICRA.2017.7989594

Journal data:
arXiv

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